Engineering Professions

Graduate programs engineering

Engineer - aeronautics

An aeronautics engineer designs all kinds of aircraft. Expertise in the science of aerodynamics, aircraft structure, function and propulsion systems, as well as computational fluid dynamics is required. Aeronautics engineers are involved from start to finish on projects. Usually working as part of a team under supervision, they play a role in everything from design, development and testing of aircraft, airframes, propulsion systems and control surfaces to overseeing the building of such items.

Engineer - architectural and construction

Architectural engineers are involved in many, and sometimes all, aspects of building design. In many cases, architectural engineers are tasked with integrating the various building systems in a design, including heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), electrical components, plumbing,fire protection, lighting and structural systems. Sometimes an architectural engineer will work alongside an architect who has responsibility for the overall building design, while at others they may have responsibility for the building design, as well.

Engineer - biological

Engineering careers have a strong practical application. Where discovery research scientists identify potential drug candidates, engineers are more concerned with figuring out first, how to ensure that enough material is available for clinical testing, and second, how to manufacture an approved drug. Engineering careers require a great capacity for precision, order, defined processes, and a need to see tangible results after a day’s work. If you like your work to be exact and practical, engineering-related careers may be just the thing. Four career paths exist in engineering: process/product development, manufacturing, environmental health and safety, and quality. The first three functions are usually grouped together under the operations department. Although engineering-related, the quality department is usually found as a separate function in the organization, regardless of its size, probably because its mandate requires independent judgment.

Engineer - CAD / drafting

A CAD engineer or draftsman uses computer technology to design objects, either real or virtual. Objects can include everything from retail packaging to components for vehicles to entire buildings, while uses can vary from prototypes for a physical object to creating something to exist in a computer game or online. Accordingly, both 2-D and 3-D modeling software is common in the field.

Engineer - chemical

The work of chemical engineers can be seen in virtually every aspect of our lives. For example, chemical engineers create toothpastes designed to whiten your whites and work to ensure that your glasses are shatterproof. In short, chemical engineers apply the principles of chemistry to engineering, seeking to develop ways of producing and using chemicals for practical purposes. Chemical engineers are the "jacks of all trades" in the engineering profession; their knowledge is broad enough to cover an expansive range of fields, such as physics, mathematics, and mechanical and electrical engineering. For example, one chemical engineer may work on creating a new chemical, another may find ways to maximize the chemical's production, and another may discover the optimal ways to use the new chemical.

As they continue their work, chemical engineers will focus on one chemical process or a specific area which becomes the center of their career. Chemical engineers generally work in teams, which fosters an environment at once competitive and cooperative. About 70 percent of the chemical engineers in the U.S. work in the manufacturing industry. Others work for research and testing firms, engineering consulting firms or as independent consultants. Consulting firms and consultants work on a contract basis on projects such as designing chemical plants.

Most entry-level engineering jobs require at least a bachelor's degree in engineering. A master's degree or PhD in chemical engineering is encouraged. Furthermore, earning that graduate degree will require you to do research, which will translate to hands-on experience when you're looking for your first job. Entry-level chemical engineers do a lot of number-crunching, tests and experiments. Within a year or two, engineers graduate to projects with greater responsibility. After gaining experience with a corporation or the government, some engineers choose to strike out on their own, establishing engineering consulting firms or starting their own engineering companies, where they pull down six-figure salaries.

If you enjoy "fixing things, improving things, and creating new and innovative processes," then you might just want to be a chemical engineer. The hours vary depending on the employer and position. Says one chemical engineer, "There's a lot of work to get done and it can be done in a variety of settings, including occasionally working from the home office or a coffee shop." Some chemical engineers who work for corporations handle "swing shifts," while others work the regular 9 to 5 schedule. Chemical engineers who work in the field generally have more flexible hours and have to wear "clothes that can get dirty." Engineers who meet with clients must dress in "business fatigues," says one engineer, dryly referring to suits. From chemical engineering, one can "go into almost any field," as chemical engineers work with all types of other engineers. However, be prepared to log long hours in developing this wide expertise; many chemical engineers log "40 to 100 hours a week in classes to learn new skills." Having a "good mentor" in college or graduate school "makes for more successful engineers." Once you're done and have that PhD, "you do get a lot of instant respect due to the academic rigor inherent in the achievement."

Engineer - civil and structural

Civil engineers can trace their occupation back to the designers of Ancient Roman aqueducts (some of which are standing to this day) and the Great Pyramid at Giza. In modern times, civil engineers are responsible for the systems that make life in modern towns and cities civilized and bearable for the rest of us. The road or bridges that your car or bus traveled along, the building you work in, and the water you drink and even flush away are all the products of civil engineering. Specialties in civil engineering include: geotechnical engineering, transportation, water resources, structural, environmental and construction.

For the most part, civil engineers work either inside an office or in the field, depending on whether they choose to concentrate on design or construction. Engineers who focus on design work for up to eight hours a day at a computer, designing on CAD (computer-aided design) applications. Those in the field supervise construction. Over 40 percent of the civil engineers in the U.S. are government employees, working largely as municipal employees for state and local governments. The other 60 percent work in construction, public utilities, transportation, and manufacturing.

Civil engineers generally work near major industrial and commercial centers. Some projects, however, take civil engineers, especially those who work in architectural and engineering firms, to remote areas or foreign countries. Civil engineers work an average of eight hours a day but are often called in when disasters strike; emergency flood relief projects keep civil engineers working seven days a weeks. Starting out, civil engineers can earn up to $40,000 or $50,000 a year if they do not mind relocating frequently. (Engineers in the water or sewer treatment field who are adept at designing treatment systems command the highest salaries in the field.) There are more lucrative segments in engineering, but civil engineers choose the field because of the vast challenges it affords; following projects from "cradle to grave" provides satisfyingly tangible results of their work.

At the very least, civil engineers starting out need a bachelor's of science in civil engineering. More and more, employers are expecting their engineers to have obtained a master's degree. Civil engineers must obtain professional engineer licenses. In their first year on the job, civil engineers complete their licensing exams and work for senior engineers. For example, a field position as a staffer for a resident engineer at a highway company can provide valuable experience in civil engineering, especially for those who are interested in becoming designers. Work availability varies by region and fluctuates with the economy - good times see more projects. After about five years, many civil engineers design or direct projects of their own. After 10 to 15 years, many civil engineers go into private consulting.

To see a project they have designed being built is a source of "immense pride" to civil engineers. In addition, civil engineering is a field that continues to develop and change, with "interesting technical challenges that require ability to be innovative." However, most civil engineers will tell you that working for non-engineering management can be frustrating. One Canadian civil engineer says that some of his/her management "does not understand technology," describing them as "glad-hands," "all hat no cattle" and "highly directive." Although compensation is "variable" and can include benefits, such as stock options, bonuses and savings plans, most civil engineers "have never heard of a civil engineer striking it rich," unless he or she owns his or her own company. The work is "not necessarily physically demanding, but it can be stressful, with a great deal of responsibility." A recent graduate reports that he "is dying to get some hands-on field work," which is what keeps many civil engineers in the business despite initially long hours and lower pay than their friends in other engineering fields.

Engineer - electrical

At heart, electrical engineers design and maintain circuits—both for conducting energy and information. Those circuits may vary widely from one another in size, utility and theory, but are all covered under the same job description. Accordingly, an electrical engineer's work may involve designing a new semiconductor, the workings of a new power station or the wiring in a building.

Engineer - environmental

Environmental engineers are involved in the reduction and control of all manner of environmental concerns, on both a local and a global scale. This can include concerns such as disposal of waste, control and reduction of water and air pollution, global warming or wildlife protection.

Engineer - environmental / geological

Environmental engineers are involved in the reduction and control of all manner of environmental concerns, on both a local and a global scale. This can include concerns such as disposal of waste, control and reduction of water and air pollution, global warming or wildlife protection.

Engineer - genetic

A genetic engineer uses genetic and biotechnological techniques to manipulate genetic material and create new organisms. The applications of a genetic engineer's work are as varied as life itself, and can encompass everything from the creation of a vaccine to a crop that gives a higher yield to cloning animal or even human life.

Engineer - hardware and design

A hardware engineer designs and builds physical components for computers, and ensures that they are capable of working not only within the system for which they have been built, but with new and existing software. Accordingly, a hardware engineer needs to be competent not only in electrical engineering and hardware design, but also in software design and computer science.

Engineer - industrial / manufacturing

Industrial engineers are concerned with maximizing efficiency and controlling costs in the industrial or manufacturing field. To do so, they focus on all the components involved in the creation of a product or service, and design systems to help maximize production and productivity. At times, this involves finding more cost-efficient methods of production, while at others it necessitates tailoring a product's specifications to make it cheaper/easier to produce.

Engineer - logistics

Logistics is the science of making sure that an organization has exactly what it needs, wherever and whenever it needs it. Accordingly, a logistics engineer will work to control an organization's systems for ordering, transporting, storing and distributing everything from raw materials to finished products.

Engineer - marine

Marine engineers design and build all kinds of water-going vehicles. Involved from start to finish on projects, a marine engineer plays a role in everything from design, development and testing of full boats and ships, components such as propellers or other propulsion systems, as well as overseeing the building of such items.

Engineer - materials

The work of materials engineers ends up in many different places, from new consumer products such as golf clubs to the wings of aircrafts. In short, the job entails anything involving elements of design (usually computer-aided), precision engineering and, of course, materials ranging from metals to composites.

Engineer - mechanical

Mechanical engineers work in an exceptionally broadly based field. Their work concerns the design, development and manufacture of any and all devices that can be classed as mechanical—from engines and turbines to refrigeration units and robots.

Engineer - metallurgical

Put simply, metallurgical engineers work with metals. Some are concerned with developing alloys, others in extracting metals from ore, and yet others in finding and processing minerals in the earth's crust. The uses for the products created by metallurgical engineers are almost limitless.

Engineer - molecular

Sometimes referred to as molecular manufacturing or nanotechnology, molecular engineering involves the creation of molecular structures at the atomic level. Particularly important in the pharmaceuticals field, molecular engineers work to create molecules that may not occur in nature (or occur only under highly specific circumstances).

Engineer - petroleum

Petroleum engineers are responsible for finding and accessing reserves of oil and gas beneath the earth's crust. Often working alongside geologists, a petroleum engineer must have a thorough understanding of drilling technologies and the properties of different geologic formations to enable them to efficiently extract the maximum amount of possible resources from any new field they discover or, increasingly, from older fields where newer technologies offer improved extraction techniques than were previously available.

Engineer - systems

Systems engineers work to identify needs, develop functionality and build systems for customers. A field where problem-solving is highly valued, systems engineering often involves the weaving together of complex and disparate elements into a single, efficient system.

Engineer - telecommunications

Telecommunications engineers typically solve engineering problems related to the telecom field: how and where to lay cables, equipment installations, even research and development work on new products. Systems engineering is also a component of the profession.

Engineer - utilities

Utilities engineers carry out tasks related to the production, transmission, delivery and even disposal of utilities such as gas, water and electricity. Accordingly, a utilities engineer may work on developing new technologies for transmitting water more efficiently or cleanly, or work to solve compliance issues for utilities providers in meeting government standards and regulations.

Engineering - general

Engineering is the practice of taking principles of science and math and applying them to the construction of tunnels, bridges, chemical plants, buildings, and so forth.

Systems integration

Commonly found in the information technology field, systems integrators specialize in taking disparate systems and subsystems and integrating them into a single, working whole. A typical task for a systems integrator in the IT field, for example, could be to integrate a data management system built on one programming platform with a customer relationship management (CRM) system built on another.

Telecommunications engineer

A telecom engineer is responsible for designing and managing the installation of telecommunications equipment and technology. It is similar to broadcast engineering.

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